Questions On Law School’s Gun Violence Prevention Clinic

The University of Minnesota Law School proudly announced the creation of a “Gun Violence Prevention Clinic”. The announcement on December 8th states their belief that it is first for US law schools and it will be headed by Everytown Law alumna Megan Walsh. Walsh is currently a Visiting Assistant Clinical Professor of Law at the school.

From the announcement on the clinic’s role:

The clinic will utilize student pro bono legal work to support and litigate cases that help reduce injuries, deaths, and trauma resulting from gun violence. A three-year pilot project, the clinic seeks to spur law school and law student engagement in firearms law and the Second Amendment; establish a home for gun violence prevention litigation in the Great Lakes area; and grow the pool of litigation expertise and legal resources available for Second Amendment and gun violence prevention matters.  

Walsh amplifies on the pro bono work saying, “Litigation in this area is needed to challenge extreme gun laws, to combat the disproportionate effect of gun violence on BIPOC communities, and to provide a counterweight to the gun lobby in the courts.” It should be noted that not only did she work for Everytown but she served as the Moms Demand Action “BE Smart” lead for Minnesota. That program is their campaign on “responsible gun ownership.”

The law school dean, Garry W. Jenkins, calls this clinic “novel and exciting”. He goes to say it will help students develop “a deep reservoir of knowledge on Second Amendment jurisprudence.” Somehow I think that this knowledge will be one-sided.

The clinic will partner with the office of Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison (DFL-MN) on litigation.

The Gun Violence Prevention Clinic will partner with the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office on Second Amendment cases and on affirmative litigation brought by the Attorney General to reduce gun violence in Minnesota. This partnership will give students the opportunity to work with the Attorney General’s office to create safer communities in Minnesota through litigation, with the students serving as Special Assistant Attorney Generals under the supervision of the clinic.

Known funding for this clinic comes from the anti-gun Joyce Foundation and the McKnight Foundation ($300,000). The announcement refers to “other funders”. That leads to the first question in the list below.

Here are a list of questions that should be asked about the clinic.

  • Who are the other “funders” of the Gun Violence (sic) Prevention Clinic?
  • How much was given to the clinic by the Joyce Foundation? They don’t list the grant on their website.
  • Will the clinic be seeking appropriated money from the Minnesota Legislature? If so, how much?
  • How much of the Office of Attorney General’s budget will be devoted to this clinic?
  • How much appropriated money from the University of Minnesota be allocated to this clinic? Or, will it only be grant-supported?
  • Who approached whom to start this clinic?
  • What is the role of Everytown in this clinic?
  • Will the Brady Law Project and Giffords Law also be involved?
  • What does Walsh consider “extreme gun laws”?
  • Will the clinic be working with the US Attorney’s Office and BATFE to prosecute straw purchasers?
  • Will the clinic be promoting litigation to close gun stores?
  • Who will be paying for the anticipated amicus briefs filed in cases opposing the flood of litigation opened up by the Bruen decision?
  • Given Walsh is a graduate of Duke University School of Law, will the clinic be coordinating efforts with the Duke Center for Firearms Law?

The clinic goes live in January 2023. There will be many more questions that can be raised and that will need answers. In the meantime, I understand Minnesota has a fairly strong public records law and I intend to use it. If anyone in Minnesota wants to help with this, just leave a comment.

Tweet Of The Day

It seems that Everytown Law and the Brady United are trying to get the Federal Trade Commission to come down on Smith & Wesson for false advertising. You can read their letter here.

However, as Rob Romano of the Firearms Policy Coalition points out, their argument might backfire on them elsewhere. That said, neither Everytown nor Brady have any problem with hypocrisy.

Cities And Everytown Sue BATFE Over “Ghost Guns”

In a lawsuit supported by the Everytown Law, the cities of Syracuse, San Jose, Chicago, and Columbia, SC have sued the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives over 80% receivers. Of course, they characterize them as “ghost guns” and not semi-finished lumps of metal or polymer.

BATFE is accused of failing to follow the Gun Control Act of 1968.

From the lawsuit:

Defendants ATF and United States Department of Justice (“DOJ”) refuse to apply the clear terms of the Gun Control Act. That federal law defines regulated “firearms” to include not only operable weapons but also their core building blocks—frames for pistols, and receivers for long guns—so long as those core building blocks are designed to be or may be readily converted into operable weapons. See 18 U.S.C. § 921(a)(3). Notwithstanding that statutory language, Defendants have declined to regulate unfinished ghost gun frames and receivers as “firearms,” even though they are designed to be and may be readily converted into
operable weapons.

Instead, Defendants have issued rules and letter determinations—continuing to this day—giving the green light to the unregulated sale of unfinished ghost gun frames and receivers.

The cities and Everytown are seeking an injunction and a declaratory relief in the Federal lawsuit brought in the Southern District of New York. They want any and all determination letters set aside.

The Everytown press release makes these assertions:

A ghost gun is a do-it-yourself, homemade gun made from easy-to-get, building blocks that are unregulated under the ATF’s current interpretation of federal law. These guns are finished by an individual, not a federally licensed manufacturer or importer. Ghost guns are one of the fastest-growing gun safety problems facing our country. 

The ATF’s current interpretation of federal law — which the lawsuit seeks to have set aside as unlawful — allows people who can’t legally own a firearm to easily buy the parts for a ghost gun. In only a few hours, these self-made weapons become fully functioning, untraceable firearms. A person can buy the parts and assemble a ghost gun without even receiving a background check

Research by Everytown shows ghost guns are becoming a weapon of choice for people with felony convictions, gun traffickers, and other people legally prohibited from owning guns. 

I call BS on the assertion that “ghost guns” are the weapon of choice of criminals. Stolen guns and guns obtained through illegal straw purchases are much more likely to be found in the hands of a criminal than a completed Glock-ish Polymer80.

Former BATFE technical expert Rick Vasquez had this to say in a Reuters report:

But Rick Vasquez, a Virginia-based firearms consultant and former ATF technical expert who evaluated guns and gun products to help the bureau determine if they were legal, said anyone wanting to address the proliferation of kit guns should pass new laws in Congress.

There is no word if Everytown Law intends to demand that the plumbing department of Lowes, Home Depot, and Menards now be required to have a FFL. As Tam has always said, they are selling 90% Sten guns.